Why The Left Must Criticize Linda Sarsour

Why The Left Must Criticize Linda Sarsour

Recent statements by Sarsour have shown she shouldn't be hailed as a progressive hero.
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Linda Sarsour has become a popular name in progressive politics as of late, as she was one of the co-founders and organizers behind the Women's March, undoubtedly one of the most important protests in recent American memory. While this is a worthy cause to support, some of Sarsour's recent statements should cause us to step back before we idolize her as a progressive figure. She has taken inflammatory positions regarding critiques of Islam, as well as attacking journalists for pointing out offensive and inconsistent tweets. I'm not here to demonize her as a person or mis-characterize her views, but I do think fellow liberals need to let down their knee-jerk defense and evaluate her behavior rationally.

2017 has been a year of political ups, downs, conflicts, protests, and scandals. One of the most prominent moments occurred just after the inauguration of President Trump. The day after the inauguration, millions across the US took to the streets to protest the President’s remarks towards women as well as what they stated were anti-women policies; this mass gathering was organized as the Women’s March. The model of the Women’s March became the template upon which most of the future protests in the Trump era, like the travel ban protests and the Science March. One of the co-founders and organizers of this event was Linda Sarsour, and the ground-breaking protest propelled her onto the national stage.

She was quickly embraced by many figures on the left, including Bernie Sanders. She championed many anti-Trump causes while also speaking out on her most passionate issue, the Palestinian people. Many on the left regard her as a champion of feminism and progressive issues, but as with many other figures who have come to national prominence; being on the national stage comes with national scrutiny.

This all came to a head last week when the Women’s March Twitter account posted a tweet honoring the birthday of Assata Shakur. Shakur, for those who don’t know, was convicted in 1977 as an accomplice in the murder. of New Jersey State Patrol Officer Werner Foerster. Foester had pulled over Shakur, who was in the car with a few others, on the New Jersey Turnpike; this quickly ended in an exchange of gunfire where Foerster was killed. Shakur and the trooper accompanying Foerster were injured. New Jersey law stated that an accomplice to a murder can be tried and convicted with an equal charge and sentence to the actual killers themselves, and Shakur was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. In 1984, however, she escaped and fled to Cuba where she was given asylum. She remains on the FBI’s most wanted list.

Clearly the fact that the Women’s March account would choose to honor this person was shocking, and many people, including journalists like Jake Tapper and Joe Scarborough called the account out for it. Even people who ardently supported the Women’s March seemed dismayed that this movement would choose to honor a convicted cop-killer.

But the Women’s March account doubled-down and, while tepidly saying that they didn’t agree with her “tactics”, they went on to praise her for her anti-racism work, which is absurd; the reason people know her name is because of the crime she committed. Sarsour, on her personal account, went a step further and accused Jake Tapper of joining the alt-right in mocking her. Anyone who’s ever watched Tapper knows that this is a nonsensical accusation.

And this isn’t the first time she’s made inflammatory statements. In reference to Ayaan Hirsi Al (and Brigitte Gabriel), an ex-Muslim who grew up in Somalia and regularly speaks on the violent aspects of Islamic fundamentalism, Sarsour wished she could “take their vaginas away” (referring also to Brigitte Gabriel); which is a stunning thing to say given that Ali had suffered female genital mutilation in her home country.

While her opinions on Israel and the Palestinian conflict are controversial, I will leave those off since there are legitimate disagreements on both sides. But just by these statements alone, I believe fellow liberals should rethink their support for her or at least demand that she apologize for and retract her statements.

Look, we need figures in America who serve as positive symbols for Muslim-Americans, especially in light of some of President Trump's harsh policies. In fairness to Sarsour, she has certainly given a voice to many Muslims and other groups across America, thanks to the Women's March. But blindly defending her comments as a knee-jerk reaction against conservatives despite some of her statements is extremely damaging to the progressive cause. And given the dire straits we are in with the Trump administration, we absolutely cannot afford that.

Cover Image Credit: Glamour

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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Educate Yourself And Spread Facts, Not Bias

Do you know the truth? Or are you allowing rumors to cloud your judgement of the political arena?

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In our society, the government has grown to be a capitalistic effort. Payout, backroom deals, we are unaware of many actions those that represent us take behind closed doors. The transparency we think we see is unrealistic and just not the way that politics actually work. In the entire world, governance has become essential to the survival and future of society. No two governments are the same, and they are essentially ever changing as many people of power change constantly.

This being said influence from these individuals rule the political sphere. Whether it be a local councilperson, senator, governor, or even the president.IN the U.S. our daily lives and wellbeing rest in the hands of the few. Some of these politicians are honest and work genuinely for the people. However, agenda frequently takes over the arena and leaves the decisions of our livelihood to the gains of politicians.

Our generation has the lowest voter turnout, leaving the decisions that we do have to older generations. Some of those hold ideologies that are not relevant nor acceptable to the climate we live in today. This is not a call to action but more of a thought. As someone who was incredibly uninvolved in politics, I wanted to look at why I lacked the care that other people my age held so passionately. I believe it starts with my distaste of conflict, which many people my age also agree with. Politics can lead to confrontation and negative conversation.

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I started engaging friends in a positive manner, as opposing opinions are valuable in a holistic situational viewpoint. I became comfortable in the discomfort of politics and worked to learn what may be in store for our world. My point for this is to educate yourself on genuine fact. Do not assert opinions based on information that your friend or even a professor gives you, keep your knowledge on the subject relevant.

You never know when legislation may come out that seriously effects your way of life. Most importantly, knowledge is power and power is what those that leave us in ignorance have over us.

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